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6 Things You Didn’t Know About Thin Stone Veneer

The manufacturing process for creating thin stone veneer products has been around for some time, yet this versatile material is still a mystery to many. A few short years ago, Kafka Granite expanded our line of stone products to include thin stone veneers made from granite, quartz, and marble, in the classic Kafka colors that architects, designers, and builders have come to know and love. 

Homeowners and designers alike are now discovering and benefiting from the unique properties of natural thin stone veneer. Here are a few fast facts you may not have known about this specialty building material.

1. Thin Stone Veneer Doesn’t Require Footing

One of the most significant advantages of thin stone veneer over full veneer is that the former can be installed without support ledges or footings. Why? It all comes down to weight. At less than 15 pounds per square foot, thin stone veneer can weigh up to 75% less than full veneer building stone. This makes installation significantly easier, but it also cuts down on shipping costs dramatically. 

2. Natural Thin Stone Veneer Works for Interior and Exterior Projects

Natural thin stone veneer is prized for its versatility and durability. As we mentioned, its light weight cuts down on shipping and installation costs. And because natural stone retains its integrity as it weathers, natural thin stone veneer is an ideal choice for both interior and exterior projects. That means that anything from your kitchen backsplash to a building facade can be enhanced by the beauty of natural stone.

3. When Installed Correctly, It Looks Just Like Full Veneer Stone

Thin veneer ranges in thickness from ¾ inches to a maximum of 1½ inches. This is significantly thinner than full veneer building stone. You might wonder how this slimmer version could possibly compare to stone that is several inches thicker. In reality, thin stone veneer stands up quite nicely to its full counterpart. The two are both made of quarried stone, meaning that they’ll both retain their integrity and hold up as time passes. Because of its less expensive shipping and installation costs, thin stone veneer is the ideal choice for adding natural stone into non-structural projects. Some types of thin stone veneer are also available in corner-shaped masonry units, meaning that a project can be extended around corners while maintaining the illusion of full building stone.

4. Not All Thin Stone Veneer Is Created Equal

Thin stone veneer products can be made from natural stone, but they can also be made from manufactured stone. Cultured or man-made stone is made from materials like Portland cement and aggregates. Oxide colors and other chemicals are used to give these man-made materials the look of natural stone. 

But while manufactured stone may look like natural stone during the installation process, the two won’t weather the same, particularly when used in exterior projects that are exposed to the elements. The chemicals in man-made stone are prone to fading over time. In contrast, natural thin stone veneer consists entirely of quarried rock—meaning that this material will retain its color and integrity as it weathers.  

5. There’s a Right and a Wrong Mortar for Thin Stone Veneer

If you’re a homeowner, you may not be at all familiar with mortar—but there’s more than one type of mixture out there. Of the five official types of mortar, type N, S, and M are the most popular. However, you still need to make sure that you’re using the correct mortar for the type of product you’re working with. If you choose a mortar with a higher compressive strength than that of your building material, for example, your masonry units could crack over time. Kafka Granite recommends type N or S for use with our natural thin stone veneer.

6. Installing Natural Stone Veneer Calls for a Professional

While it is possible for homeowners to install thin stone veneer on their own, we do recommend hiring a professional stonemason to ensure that this specialty building product is properly applied. A knowledgeable professional will be familiar with the necessary conditions and pre-installation steps that need to be taken, as well as the artistry behind blending shape, color, and pattern for a stunning outcome.

With the proper surface preparations, natural thin stone veneer can be adhered to a wide variety of surfaces, including plywood, concrete, and metal—but the surface of exterior projects will first need to be waterproofed. Depending on the material of the surface that will be in contact with the thin stone veneer, your stonemason may also need to apply additional materials, such as a non-corrosive metal lath. 

You might think following a DIY video or installation instructions online is all there is to creating a beautiful project with thin stone veneer, but even professional masons will get different outcomes with the same materials. Some simply have a better eye for arranging units than others. Because no two sections of natural thin stone veneer are the same, masons will have to meticulously fit pieces together, sometimes even altering them with a rock hammer or saw. Additionally, these professionals need to balance shape and color, whether by following a visible pattern or creating a more freeform mosaic. All of this is to say that you’re not just paying a professional stone mason for the labor—expertise and eye for design are also important factors.

Natural Stone Veneer From Kafka Granite

If you’re searching for a way to incorporate natural stone into your project, thin stone veneer offers an affordable, lightweight alternative to full veneer building stone. At Kafka Granite, we’re proud to offer a wide range of colors and cuts, ensuring that you find the perfect style of natural stone for your project. Contact us today to learn more about this specialty stone product.

The Geology of Natural Stone

Designers, architects, and stone masons get to see quite a variety of stone products, from specialty aggregates to natural stone veneer. Even more people get to see the end results of Kafka Granite’s products—in the form of building facades, bridge overpasses, golf cart pathways, and more. But have you ever wondered about where that stone comes from, and how it came to be? Where, exactly, do we get these striking colors and high-quality material? 

Today, we’re backing up a few steps to take a look at the geology of natural stone. And don’t worry if you don’t remember anything from your middle school geology class—we’ve got you covered with this peek into the rock-solid foundation of our industry.

Where Does Natural Stone Come From?

Geology is an earth science that deals with understanding the structure of the planet. It also holds the key to every natural stone product out there. Before the Earth was a solid mass dotted with features like oceans and volcanoes, it was a ball of mineral gases. Natural stone is the result of those mineral gases solidifying and being compressed over millions of years. 

As the Earth’s crust solidified, heavier minerals were pushed towards the core of the planet, where they were subjected to intense pressure and high temperatures. Eventually, these newly solidified minerals were pushed upwards towards the surface, where they formed rock beds. Some of these deposits became the very quarries from which we extract our own natural stone today. 

3 Rock Types to Know

Quartz, granite, limestone, and marble are just some of the natural stones that we use in our products, but these various kinds of rocks can all be classified into three main types.

Igneous

To put it simply, igneous rocks were here first. This type of rock is created when liquid magma or lava cools down and becomes solid. If that process takes place below the surface of the Earth, it results in intrusive igneous rocks, like granite. But if the lava erupts and cools on the surface, we’re left with extrusive igneous rocks, such as basalt. You’ll find these kinds of rocks everywhere from basins to deep in the oceanic crust.

Sedimentary

Sedimentary rocks are fairly self-explanatory: they’re formed by solidifying sediments, such as volcanic ash. The distinctive mesas that litter the landscape of the American Southwest are a prolific example of sedimentary rock. The exact nature of the sediment determines the type of rock that is formed. Clastic sedimentary rocks, such as shale and sandstone, are created from pieces of pre-existing rocks that become compacted. Organic sedimentary rocks form from plant and animal debris being compacted over millions of years, while chemical sedimentary rock is created by dissolved minerals depositing and solidifying from water.

Metamorphic

Again, the name offers a hint: metamorphic rocks were once igneous or sedimentary rocks that underwent a transformation. That transformation involved extreme conditions, like high heat and pressure, that changed the chemical composition of the rocks. Metamorphic rocks include marble and quartzite, two popular choices for specialty aggregate and stone product manufacturers.

How Does Natural Stone Get Its Color?

If you’ve worked with natural stone before, you’ve likely noticed that no two pieces are exactly the same. In fact, this is one of the major draws of natural stone as a building material; the color variations add a kind of character that is difficult to replicate with man-made products. 

So, where does natural stone get its array of colors from? It’s all thanks to the nature of the minerals and other organic components that make up each type of stone. Depending on the exact minerals and the way in which they settle, blocks of stone extracted from the same quarry can vary greatly in color, texture, and pattern. Marble, for example, is widely known for its veined pattern. Those veins are caused by deposits like iron oxide and feldspar. The “purest” marble is largely white and free of color variation, but particular varieties are actually sought after to lend a certain look or color to a project.

Applications of Natural Stone

It’s worth noting that different types of rocks are useful for different building purposes, depending on their hardness and other key physical properties. There are ASTM Standards set out that describe the minimum and maximum specifications for a variety of natural stone types, which is invaluable for quality control

Today, natural stone is extracted from quarries around the world—Kafka Granite owns a number of them across North America. While our business isn’t nearly as old as the rocks that we crush into specialty aggregates, our decades in the industry have shown us that there are nearly endless uses for natural stone. The material is ideal for thin stone veneer products, where all the color variations of a stone can be put on display. Natural stone can also be used in the creation of retaining walls, accent pieces, pathway mixes, and a whole host of other applications. 

Incorporate the Beauty of Natural Stone Into Your Project

Whether you’re an architect seeking a solution for a large commercial project or a designer planning out a rustic, farmhouse-style home, Kafka Granite has the right product for your unique needs. We’re eager to help you find the ideal natural stone product for your project. Contact us today to speak to a knowledgeable sales representative.

The Unique Geology of Wisconsin

Though Kafka Granite sources stone from quarries across the continent, we’re proud to call Wisconsin our home—and the wellspring of many of our beautiful products. But what, exactly, makes this great state the perfect spot for our business? 

Essentially, it’s all in the geology of the area. We’ve put together an overview of the thousands of years of history and natural forces that have made Wisconsin’s geology so unique today. Read on to learn more about this fascinating state.

Wisconsin Stone Over the Centuries

Wisconsin’s uncommon geology didn’t happen in a year—or even a century. It took hundreds of thousands of years for Earth’s cooling and heating patterns to transform the area into what it is today. More specifically, we have glaciers to thank for the vast majority of Wisconsin’s mineral deposits and topography.

The Wisconsin Glaciation

About every 100,000 years, the planet goes through a long period of cooling, followed by a shorter period of warmth. The last occurrence of this cycle, known as the Wisconsin Glaciation, began about that long ago—with the Laurentide Ice Sheet advancing across North America. Large swaths of Wisconsin became covered in ice, which was diverted and interrupted by the natural topography of the area. 

It took thousands of years for the ice to halt its approach and for the glaciers and sheets to melt or retreat from Wisconsin, but that slow process left us with a natural landscape unlike anything else seen in U.S. geology. The shrinking Laurentide Ice Sheet left behind the many lakes and rivers that characterize parts of the state, as well as a wide variety of glacially deposited minerals—the very minerals that create many of the colors in Kafka Granite’s collection!

A Wealth of Minerals

Wisconsin contains deep deposits of iron and other ores, which have characterized the state—just look at the University of Wisconsin’s mascot, Bucky Badger, an homage to the local lead miners of the early to mid-1800s. But you can also find deposits of minerals and gemstones from A to Z across the length of the state. Quartz and calcite are just two extremely common finds.

Decomposed Granite in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s unique geologic makeup, coupled with thousands of years of natural erosion, also resulted in large deposits of decomposed granite (DG) throughout the state. When feldspar, one of the main components of granite, breaks down, it results in flaking, crumbling material that can be further crushed for projects like pathways and baseball fields. Wisconsin boasts a variety of hues of naturally occurring decomposed granite, from bold reds to vibrant golds.

Decomposed granite mining is limited to certain geographical locations throughout the country, but Wisconsin is particularly rich in this material. Today, DG is extracted from the ground, then sent through a screening process. If needed, this natural resource can be crushed to specific sizes and gradations to meet specifications for a particular mix or project. 

What Does Wisconsin’s Geology Mean to Kafka Granite?

Thanks to the rich landscape created by the last Ice Age, Wisconsin offers an invaluable variety of materials, from natural round boulders to crushed quartz, granite, and marble in a startling range of colors. This selection enabled the rapid growth of Kafka Granite—because we were able to source and acquire so many different colors quickly, and in close proximity to our home base.

A Variety of Colors and Stone Products

This level of variety is not normal in much of the country. Head to another state, and you’ll see nothing but gray limestone for miles. Some areas of the country may not have any granite at all, or may only have one such deposit. It’s not easy to source all of these colors if you’re in the middle of Kentucky, for example. 

Wisconsin’s geology—and that of its surrounding states—allows Kafka Granite to source materials like black, pink, and gray granite, or gray limestone, all within 200 miles. In Pennsylvania, you’ll find more gray granite than you can use, but you won’t find the same range of other products and colors. 

It’s that level of convenience that has allowed us to meet the needs of architects, designers, and stonemasons around the country. In fact, about 85 percent of our colors are sourced from Wisconsin or the Upper Peninsula. 

We have an immense variety of naturally occurring materials, which you can even pick up on from the comfort of your car. The next time you’re in the area, take a drive around the state—notice the shoulders of the road, which are created from whatever stone is locally abundant. You’ll see shades like purple, gray, and green, all of which will tell you that there’s an abundance of stone that color in the area. Around our facility, you’ll notice plenty of gray and black granite.

Natural Stone Products From Kafka Granite

We’re immensely proud of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that has made Kafka Granite a leading manufacturer and supplier of specialty aggregates and other building products. Clearly, beautiful, rugged Wisconsin has played a pivotal role in the growth of our company over the years. Not only is it home to our crushing facility; but Wisconsin’s geology means that it offers plenty of natural resources and mineral deposits to satisfy the high demand for unique colors and products.

If you’re looking for natural stone products in a wide variety of colors and sizes, you’ve come to the right place. Contact Kafka Granite today to speak to a knowledgeable sales rep about your project.